Workshops Support Communities

May 3, 2023

The Upshot

CEL has hosted a series of resiliency workshops with community partners. The workshops have helped communities understand building energy usage and how best to increase resilience.

Jamboree Housing & Paseo Adelanto Workshops


Jamboree Housing delivers high-quality affordable housing and services that transform lives and strengthen communities. One of their projects is Paseo Adelanto, a mixed-use development located in San Juan Capistrano, CA. The development consists of one residential building comprising 51 units and several common areas as well as one commercial building that is home to the City of San Juan Capistrano City Hall. The residences are available to local vulnerable populations, individuals experiencing homelessness, and individuals with mental illness.

Part of CEL's mission is to ensure the benefits of sustainable buildings and technologies accrue to at-risk populations. To this end, we are engaging a robust community engagement process in partnership with prospective occupants and building users. Through this process, we will learn about their priorities and evaluate options for design and technology that align with users' preferences and requirements. We will use this information to maximize the adoption of our technology, improving both user adoption and resiliency.


CEL hosted a three-hour human-centered design workshop with Paseo Adelanto users on January 19th, 2023. Eight participants joined, including Asset Managers, Maintenance Directors and Technicians, and Program, Property, and Project Managers from Jamboree Housing. This workshop allowed us to gain community feedback and understand occupants' building energy usage and their preferred interface with emerging technologies.

Part one of the workshop allowed participants to reflect on their relationships to energy consumption and learn the basics of how energy is changing and what new energy control options are emerging. It also allowed us to get a sense of how they spend their days and to gauge our participant’s understanding & perceptions around what’s powering the appliances they use on a typical day at a mixed-use development. We asked participants to then chart a typical day when a power outage occurs. 

Part two of the workshop allowed participants to provide input on the controls for Paseo Adelanto.  It also allowed us to get a sense of what interface and control priorities best fit the community. Initial findings indicate the desire for workforce training materials, tactical and  instructional, and marketing handbooks, and materials as opposed to a digital interface.


  • Facility level resiliency is preferred over per-unit residential level resiliency during grid events
  • There is a strong desire for physical education documents for both residents and management across a variety of energy/resiliency topics
  • This community prefers short hardcopy documents/ small handbooks over a digital interface for training/education purposes
  • They want to provide management to resident transparency via email or text notifications to keep residents informed on any relevant energy or grid-related information or events

Tacoma Power & Franklin Pierce High School Workshops


Franklin Pierce School District has over 60 buses and vehicles. These vehicles park overnight at the Bus Barn located at Franklin Pierce High School. The district has already purchased several electric buses and, over the next 15 years, they intend to electrify their entire fleet. They also intend to install 100kW of solar on the high school’s roof.

These resources have many benefits, but combined with the district's heating and cooling needs they would quickly overwhelm the school's meter. This would cause power issues and require frequent reconfiguration of the local distribution system. In order to function properly, the school will require innovative controls and operations that can lower peak demand. CEL is working with the school, district, and utility to deploy its technology. We aim to reduce the district’s HVAC load peak by more than 20%, which will reduce energy bills as well as the size of the storage and generation necessary for backup, prolonging power duration during outages.


As part of this project, CEL is working with the local community to get their feedback and increase their understanding of school energy usage and what it takes to support the resources that schools require. To do this, CEL leveraged match funding and in-kind support from Tacoma Power, the local utility. With this funding, CEL hosted a six-hour Smart and Resilient Schools Energy summit consisting of interactive educational activities. 19 individuals, many of whom had no or limited knowledge about building systems, participated in the workshop. Participants included students, teachers, and building maintenance professionals from elementary and secondary school districts, as well as nontechnical community members.

Workshop participants first identified what drives energy usage and the sources of this required daily energy during a typical school day. Then, they repeated the process to identify usage and sources during a power outage. Through this exercise, they determined which resources were critical and discussed how they could increase resilience during power outages without using diesel generators. Equipped with this new understanding of energy in schools, workshop participants had thoughtful and productive discussions about how best to increase the resiliency of critical energy resources.


  • Parents are heavily impacted by outages when kids are sent home from school early.
  • Building operators' primary responsibilities are serving occupants followed by keeping costs low and following district policies, but this is hard with aging equipment.
  • Even the best informed have less insight than they expected into the complexities and nuance of the services provided and the energy sources that they come from.
  • Customers took great interest in the load shifting from HVAC and other building systems to address emergencies.
  • Building operators are unclear on the county's expectations of schools and their responsibility in the context of a wider disaster.
  • Customers were interested in replicating this learning and exploring longer-duration outages and other scenarios.
  • Building systems need to be more resilient and control systems need to be easy to use and seamless to customers.
  • There are energy generation alternatives that have different carbon costs and advantages; solar is not the only solution.
  • Customers want to learn more about the difference between DOAS and HVAC and their respective advantages.
  • Customers would enjoy going through and understanding the integration process for all the different systems discussed.
  • Schools use energy over a wider period of time than just when students and staff are in the building.
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